If you’re planning your next adventure towards a cool beach paradise, minus the hoards of people, the tourist tax and a break from the American culture Zipolite and Mazunte could just be the ticket.
We ourselves had no idea of the two towns prior to other travelers giving us a heads up. Coming from Puerto Escondido it was only just over an hour which was hardly a travel but with only good reports had to check it out ourselves.
Traveling From Puerto Escondido
Grab a colectivo or basically a carpool found throughout Mexico. They are actually more like trucks with the back beds covered with tarp and benches on each side. There are bus style colectivos as well, some with storage which may be a few pesos more. The truck style usually have what looks like an old style light switch, one in the front or rear of the sitting area which can be buzzed to stop. Our colectivo bus from Puerto to San Antonio cost 45 pesos a person. We were picked up on the main drag, the Coaster highway on the beach side across from the ADO bus station before heading east. It was just under an hour before being dropped off outside of an OXXO convenience store. From there you can grab another colectivo for about 8 pesos but we had a taxi waiting and with a group split costs to not much more. First you drive through Mazunte about 15 minutes with another 10 before reaching Zipolite.
Zipolite : Our Take
Zipolite is a quiet, chill hippy town with an extensive beautiful beach open to nudists and non alike. Its soft sands are pounded down day in and out by the powerful currents that run throughout the shoreline. Artists of all kinds run the main street, Ave. Roca Blanca at night while restaurants hustle and bustle lay in the backdrop. It is a sleepy town so not everything opens early besides breakfast restaurants and a grocer or two. A very liberating vibe with people from all over, besides at least what we saw Americans. Plenty of French, Spanish, Canadian and of course other Mexicans on vacation.
Where to get Money
Cash is king in Mexico and especially in smaller towns, like Zipolite (and Mazunte). It’s good to be careful with amounts kept on person of course but it’s also about necessary to have to buy just about anything here. I don’t recall a single place accepting while we stayed. That being said, the two ATM’s located on the main strip, Ave. Roca Blanca run out of cash quick and the next option would be to either withdraw in Mazunte at the ultra slow Santander ATM (which also charged me almost $12USD with fees). I believe there is an ATM in Puerto Angel but no actual banks to withdraw unless heading an hour towards Pochutla (half an hour by taxi or an hour by colectivo).
Places to stay in Zipolite
For just about 250 pesos per cabana and literally just across an alley to reach the beach it’s not a bad bargain by any means. We found this place by walking in which sometimes is the best way but their website or facebook site can fill in the details. The cabana’s we stayed in were well covered with mosquito netting, a door with a lock, clean showers and bathrooms and a restaurant right at the entryway. The restaurant served a more than reasonable breakfast for about 60 pesos and lunch running around 100 per person.
This cabana style habitation is right on the beach. We were lucky to grab the ground corner unit on the beach which couldn’t get you much closer. Also well protected from the mosquitos even though the breeze closer to the beach seems to be enough of a repellent. We paid 250 pesos a night for another double bed cabana which we split with another couple that we’d met in Puerto. Directly outside the door was a hammock and beyond that a restaurant and bar with breakfast around 70 pesos and lunch, about 110.
This is just one of many camping areas on the beach for a budget. Most don’t provide tents but for 50 pesos to tent and many with lockers, toilets and showers could bring a big savings towards your travels. Also if really on a budget yet of course at your own risk as we’ve been told by many camping on the beach itself is free. Now we’ve also been warned by travelers as well as locals that night theft is common and should be taken seriously. That being said, we didn’t camp on the beach but also didn’t see any unusual activity on the beaches for the week of our stay.
What To Eat
Of course you have choices and to begin, if you have cooking gear or are staying in a place with a public kitchen the first option and bargain option that is would be self cooking.
Plenty of fresh and vegetables fill the front entry with local cheeses, sliced meats and dry goods found throughout. A small market but one of the larger in the town. Cash only. (There is another just a few blocks west on the same side of the street just beside A Nice Place Place On The Beach that slips my mind but similar prices with a bit less produce and slightly smaller)
Secondly a few recommended dining spots
Here you can grab a hand rolled and tossed pizza small or large small. Small being sufficient if only moderately hungry and ranging from 90 pesos to 150 average and the crust, oh so good! Also can be a veggie or vegan option around as well with Margherita and some other total veg options.
So the pinpoint of this address is in the partial name as I don’t recall there being one and with a little back search couldn’t find any information besides this 2012 google location and this name on it’s awning. This is the location of a the most fantastic rotisserie chicken stand. Roasted over wood coals with onions and some potatoes and served with rice, salad and tortillas with options of quarter, half or a whole for 140 pesos or less. To be honest a quarter of a chicken is decent for one person and runs around 40 pesos. A great bargain, a smaller eating area but more local and less crowded and simply amazing.
This place is a quiet little breakfast spot open from 7am-1:30pm so if you’re a late riser you may miss it altogether. It does reopen sometime in the evening for dinner but definitely recommend the breakfast. This place for starters does have quick wifi if necessary, great coffee and a cool combo of a drip coffee, sliced fruit and toast for about 60 pesos. Breakfast itself isn’t much more from about 50-80 pesos and still only stones throw from the beach.
Things You Should Definitely Do
Now there are a handful of tours throughout Puerto Angel, not far from Zipolite and I believe this is the one we took. It was a word-of-mouth set tour set up by a traveling friend for a group of seven of us (plus a few extra) which may have given the deal of 200 pesos a person. It was an odd transaction with half of the money given to a contact in Zipolite and the rest the day of. None the less, at 6am we were picked up in a truck close to our cabana, driven to Puerto Angel and by 6:30am we were in the water. This tour lasted a little over 3 hours beginning with sunrise followed by sea turtles and bright blue bioluminescence visible even during the day. Next we were given masks and swam with a super-pod of dolphins. Underwater was like an orchestra of 30 or so dolphins talking to each other. Cliff diving was a quick stop after from a large rock perched off of the coast. We were on tour for whales as well which we didn’t come upon this trip but to finish up we were toured down the coast to another beautiful beach where there was a small restaurant and reef that sat in front of it. We were given snorkeling gear and were able to see all of the tropical life filled with vivid color before the company caught us a ride back from Puerto Angel to Zipolite. Oh and the did have a fishing pole trolling behind the tour boat and let the passengers have a go at reeling up any bites.
This place could be a total stay in itself. It’s just slightly smaller than Zipolite and a little bit quieter if that’s possible. Collect a colectivo for 8 pesos from the corner of the 175 which is the main road that passes Zipolite. About 10 minutes later you’ll reach Mazunte. Lined with little shops, one after another selling local beach gear, fresh coco’s (with the hand-carved wooden straws for 10 pesos, save the ocean) and a few small restaurants. Recommendation while here, stop at this little restaurant just before Playa Mazunte. Where the Santander ATM is on the north side of the street, head south towards the beach on an unmarked street. Adjacent to Dharma Hostel and Spa is this little tlayuda restaurant which for 60 pesos you can get a giant hand made tlayuda. Secondly if you buy a drink at Jalil or El Pescador you can catch shade on the beach from an umbrella and beach chair. The waves here are strong and crash right onto the beach but can be fun if your careful and less current than in Zipolite. Sunsets of course are amazing and for just another 8 pesos you can connect back to Zipolite. I believe the last Colectivo runs around 7:30pm before having to hike, take a taxi or hitch-hike.
Now of course while in Zipolite you may as well take advantage if it’s magnificent beach as well. A forewarning to the strong rip-currents that are usually marked with flags but not always supervised. For even a strong swimmer, swimming parallel to shore until out of the current is the best way to exit but if just learning to swim it may be best to check another local beach. With that out of the way the rest of Zipolite beach is ever-so mellow. It is the first and only legal public nude beach in Mexico (optional of course). A liberating feeling if comfortable, just for parts that usually don’t see sun, use a liberal amount of sunscreen. The beach during our stay and from Dec – Apr at least will sit around 30 C or about 87 F with a bit of humidity. There is some surfing done along the west side of the beach with rentals found throughout the town. Recommendation, for sunrise wander east down the beach towards end where you’ll find a staircase that brings you to another small fishing boat beach. Beyond that are some great rocks to climb upon to catch a better view. Even better are from atop the staircase you climbed over to the beach, beside it is a trail that sneaks on top of the hill to an even better overlook.
Of course sunscreen for daily activities as there isn’t much cloud coverage beyond a little at night and biggest, mosquito repellent. Now not to deter anyone from this pristine sun chasers paradise but there has been the rare case of Dengue. Mosquito bites are common along the coast without much consequence besides an itch but just be prepared. Along the beach the wind is a strong enough repellent but while getting ready for a nice dinner or for bed it’s good to be protected. Mosquito netting inside any cabana style living quarters is something to look for but a little repellent can be a safe bet.
and of course…Have FUN!!!
So definitely glad we made the trip. We stuck around for a little over a week as we traveled with friends we made in Puerto Escondido and made friends while in Zipolite. The arts scene, the people, food and of course the scenery were unforgettable. Besides finding Mezcal vendors on the street selling a reused and refilled personal size coke bottle for under 100 pesos, there was at least while we visited, a Mezcalaria on the beach with about twelve different flavors all in large glass jars. A little pricey but delicious. So much more can be done…or not as time moves slow, as does everything else in this hidden, artsy paradise.